Salamander is a multi vertical scrolling shooter video game. It was developed and published by Konami and SPS.
It was originally released in arcades, but was later ported to many home consoles and computers, including Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, (Famicom in Japan), Mobile Phones, MSX, PC, PC Engine, PlayStation 3, (PlayStation Network), PlayStation Portable, (PlayStation Network), PlayStation Vita, (PlayStation Network), PlayStation 4, (Arcade Archives), Nintendo Wii (Virtual Console), Nintendo 3DS, (Virtual Console), Nintendo Wii U (Virtual Console), Sharp X68000, iOS, and ZX Spectrum.
Why It Rocks
- There is no power-up bar; all weapons are dropped randomly from enemies.
- As a shooter Salamander mixes both horizontal and vertical scrolling much like some of the Twinbee games. This could have been a recipe for disaster but the game is equally adept at both.
- Overall the difficulty is quite low compared to the typical entries in the series. Due to the frequent weapon drops you can reach full power pretty quickly at which point you will blitz through the levels easily. There is still a ton going on with stray bullets and enemies blending into the background but nothing so intense that would be considered unfair. This home port adapts the checkpoint system of Gradius but isn’t as punishing since the game is so generous with weapons. There is no Konami code and continues are limited but that is little deterrent.
- Salamander was a significant leap forward in terms of presentation over Gradius which is surprising considering both games were released a year apart.
- The generic star fields of old have been replaced with more varied terrain such as fortified enemy bases, asteroid fields, and fiery planets.
- There is also a unique boss for every level which sounds minor but goes a long way toward keeping you from getting bored.
- When it comes to the home console version, the FM synthesized music has been improved over the arcade game.
- The one flaw with the game’s presentation is the slowdown. Much like the NES version of Gradius II with four options and a weapon like the Ripple filling up the majority of the screen the game can and will slow to a crawl frequently. This is especially egregious during boss battles but at least there it is welcome as the game can move too fast otherwise.
- The only major flaw with the game is its length. With just six stages shooter veterans can complete the game in under thirty minutes. Those less skilled will probably average an hour or so.
- While the FM synthesized music has been improved when the game was ported to consoles, the voices announcing the names of weapons and levels have been removed for some reason.